The South Brunswick High School football team's quest for a perfect season ended against the same team it started against.
Playing Sayreville for the second time this season, South Brunswick was defeated in the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals, 22-15, at home on Friday night.
"Trying to beat Sayreville twice in the same season is tough," South Brunswick Coach Rick Mantz said. "That's a real challenge."
That win helped South Brunswick win its division championship.
Thanks to its win on Nov. 18, Sayreville will get to play in the Central Jersey Group IV title game in two weeks.
"Sayreville wanted it as bad as we did," noted South Brunswick senior Jevon Tyree.
Considering what was at stake, effort was not an issue in this game. It just came down to one big play at the end.
Midway through the fourth quarter, that play seemed to come courtesy of the running of Tyree, who went 53 yards for a score. Unfortunately, Tyree's touchdown came back on a hold.
Instead, the big play was a 63-yard touchdown pass from Sayreville's Isaiah Cureton to Delon Stephenson with just 1:23 to play.
This score gave Sayreville its second lead of the game. Sayreville scored the first 15 points in the game before South Brunswick came charging back. A 17-yard run by Stephenson and a 17-yard pass from Cureton to Miles Hartsfield did the damage early in the contest.
Down 15-0 late in the first half, South Brunswick got a big break when a Sayreville screen pass drifted over and behind the receiver, making it a live ball. South Brunswick recovered the ball at the Sayreville 16 with 3:22 to play in the first half.
Two plays later, TJ Perkowski scrambled 12 yards for a touchdown. When Tyree added a two-point conversion run, the deficit was down to 15-8.
South Brunswick, looking to continue its momentum, recovered an onsides kick to start the second half. While that drive quickly stalled, Tyree got the ball back for South Brunswick with an interception.
Three plays later, Dan Gorzynski scrambled 35 yards for a touchdown. With 3:30 to play in the third quarter, the game was tied at 15-15.
"I'm really proud of my guys," Mantz said. "They never stopped fighting."
Bryan Stonkus -- all 6' 3", 250 pounds of him -- even came away with an interception that put South Brunswick in Sayreville territory to start the fourth.
Sayreville was having a tremendous defensive game, though. It limited South Brunswick to just 137 yards total. The Vikings just couldn't put together that decisive drive.
South Brunswick kept Sayreville to 278 yards of total offense, but the 63 yards on the late touchdown pass were too much to overcome.
Isnard Mir-Merced led South Brunswick with 6.5 tackles. Azim Blakey had six tackles, TJ Taylor five, Darrell Harper five, Joe Pietfrefesa 4.5, Dion Hooper three and Rashaan Baker and Bryan Stonkus two each.
South Brunswick is now 9-1 and will finish out its season when it hosts North Brunswick on Thanksgiving. A win in that game would allow South Brunswick to finish with a school record of 10 in a season.
"It's always good to end the season on a positive note," Baker said. "We really wanted to get the game tonight and reach the state championship. Now, we'll just come back strong on Thanksgiving and try and get the win there."